Hello. How are you? I was wondering about antagonist personalities after they make a change. From Amity of The Owl House to Peridot and Yellow Diamond of Steven Universe, some people (myself not included) believe that they became “less likable” and “lost what made them special” after switching over to Team Good. On the other hand, some fans of rivals such as Bakugo of My Hero Academia do not want him to have a “change of heart” (not sure how to word it???) as “being nice” would make him “boring.” What do these meaner characters have that make them likable? What about these personalities draws people in? Thank you.
Hey Hadeel, great to hear from you again!
Everyone loves a good redemption arc, but sometimes once the arc is finished, the former villain is indeed a less-interesting character than before. I’m not familiar with Owl House, and I didn’t watch far enough into Steven Universe to see much of Team Good Peridot, but I’m familiar with the trope nonetheless. Piccolo from Dragon Ball and DBZ is always the character that comes to mind for me, as once he turned good, he quickly succumbed to the “not Goku or Vegeta and thus not important” effect.
This can happen for a lot of reasons, and one is that the author neglected redemption arc fundamentals. If the former villain hasn’t earned their redemption, that can make their interactions with the rest of Team Good awkward and unpleasant. Even if audiences can’t put a name to it, something is off about the supposedly redeemed villain, so they aren’t particularly fun to watch or read about.
Another common issue is that Team Good might already be full to capacity. If there’s nothing for the reformed villain to do, then they just end up hanging out while all the existing heroes have fun adventures. This is a recurring problem on Teen Wolf, as a whole bunch of villains turn good(ish), but there are already so many main characters that the writers have no screen time to spare. So the former villains just hang out until it’s time for an episode where they can actually contribute.
Finally, sometimes a villain doesn’t have much of an interesting character once you take away their cool antagonism. That’s actually fine most of the time. Villains don’t always need to be super deep, as long as they’re competent and their motivations make sense. But if you want them to be on Team Good, they need to have something that makes them fun to watch when they aren’t opposing the hero. Sylar from Heroes had that problem, if anyone still remembers Heroes. He was a terrifying villain, but once the writers took that away, he was just boring.
So if you’re going to bring a villain over to the good side and you want them to stick around, remember the three essentials: stick the redemption arc, give them a way to contribute, and make sure there’s more to their personality than villain-hood. Not to name drop, but Zuko checks all three of those boxes. His redemption is legendary, he adds firebending to the team’s skill list, and he has plenty of drama outside of capturing Aang.
If there’s no room on Team Good or a villain doesn’t have anything going on outside of villainy, they don’t have to stick around after being redeemed. It’s fine for them to walk off into the sunset, never to be seen again except for an occasional guest appearance. Better that than wasting away as a shadow of their former selves.
Hope that answers your question, and good luck with your writing!